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Transient held on $1 million bail in slaying of homeless man in Highlands

As the investigation unfolded Sunday morning into the bludgeoning death of a transient in the Highlands, Renton Police officers weren't sure of his identification.

His face and head had been severely beaten by a hammer, which was found nearby in a hedge next to a bank, its claw covered with blood.

But other transients recognized his shoes and offered officers the name of a 52-year-old man. As of Tuesday morning, the King County Medical Examiner's Office had yet to release the victim's name.

The man's body was found by a walker at about 8 a.m. in an alcove behind a shop in the Greater Hi-Lands Shopping Center on Sunset Boulevard Northeast.

Officers later learned that the suspect in the slaying also had used that same alcove as a place to sleep.

Another transient offered officers a lead, telling them that a transient who had threatened other homeless men in the Highlands with a hammer was in a nearby convenience store. Officers found him sitting in front of the store with a beer.

The 48-year-old Renton man had blood on his shoes, pants, jacket, nose and chin, according to the certificate of probable cause filed with the King County Prosecutor's Office after his arrest.

The tread mark on his shoes matched the shoe tread found near the victim's body.

The Renton man hadn't been charged as of Tuesday morning; he's being held in the King County Jail in downtown Seattle on $1 million bail. His next court appearance is Wednesday afternoon in Seattle.

The area where the 52-year-old man was killed is known to Renton police officers as a place where transients gather and drink beer.

According to the court documents, a transient well-known to police showed an officer a hedge next to a bank drive-through where the suspect stayed. An opening in the thick hedge was big enough to allow someone to crawl in.

In the opening to the hedge was a claw hammer, which had blood on it.

A transient told officers the victim and the suspect didn't like each other and described the suspect as "mean." He related how the day before he and the suspect were at a bus stop when the suspect pulled the hammer from his pants and said in any angry tone, "I will kill somebody," according to court documents.

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